Common words and phrases are losing their meaning in reference to the terror wave in Israel. These obfuscations often start with political leaders and then are spread by media. A good guide to whether you are getting an unbiased report will be to notice if key words still keep their common meanings or if, instead, odd usage directs readers and viewers toward minimizing or even justifying terrorism against Israelis.
Light or moderate wounds: normally describes the level of injuries someone has sustained.
Referring to Israelis, now suggests that the danger was minimal.
Every day for the past two weeks, in some cases nearly every hour, Jewish Israelis have been the victims of stabbing or shooting attacks. Or of cars purposely rammed into people standing at bus stops.
Every one of these attacks is an attempted murder. This is true even when the victim manages to fight off the terrorist or stumbles away with only light or moderate wounds. All of the victims of terror who are injured and are taken to hospitals are alive only because the terrorist failed at his or her goal of killing Jews.
The terms, “attempted murder” or “terrorist attack” do not seem to be applied to attempted murders and terrorist attacks by Palestinians against Jews.
Alleged: normally indicates some possibility that there was no attack or that the individual apprehended was not an attacker.
Regarding terror against Israelis, now indicates that what we are seeing did not happen.
Dozens of people witness these events, and often the perpetrator has explicitly stated his or her intention to murder Jews. Although Jews have in fact been attacked, and the perpetrator has been stopped while attacking, the word, “alleged” is included apparently to raise doubt about what really occurred. The effort to suggest that no security response is needed shows up even when there is video that allows viewers (and reporters) to see the terrorist in action.
Executed: Normally means that someone was summarily killed.
Now describes an attacker who was wounded by Israeli security and is at this moment alive and being interviewed.
Can also be used to suggest that live ammunition is inappropriate for use by Israeli security under any circumstances.
An Arab woman is shouting and wielding a knife at a bus station; she refuses to put down the knife after repeated requests by Israeli security who start clearing the area of civilians. She keeps the knife in her hand raised over her head and eventually an officer stops her by firing at her leg. She is rushed to an Israeli hospital and this is described “an execution.”
A young teen goes on a stabbing spree and is shot at in the process. He is rushed to the hospital where he is sitting up eating lunch while being interviewed. He says he set out to kill Jews. At the same time, Mahmoud Abbas gives a televised speech declaring that the boy was “executed” by Israelis.
Resulting deaths: Normally refers to the number of people who have been killed by terrorists.
Now does not distinguish between victims and their murderers.
Rumors: The common term for unsubstantiated claims.
Now presented as justification for any kind of terrorism against Israelis.
For months, the false rumor has been spread by Palestinian leaders, Muslim imams, and Palestinian Authority teachers, that Jews will be allowed to pray at the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Even the US State department got this wrong and had to issue a retraction. The “status quo” agreement the State of Israel made with Jordan in 1967 has never changed and isn’t changing. News articles do not describe (or show curiosity about) this unusual arrangement but suggest that a rumor is simply a reason to take up guns or knives or cinder blocks and start trying to kill Israelis.
No one was harmed: Normally means that a harmful situation was diffused or stopped before anyone was hurt.
The now familiar, revised meaning suggests that that attacks against Israelis are only harmful if a civilian is killed.
Long before the current round of Palestinian terror, the Hamas government of Gaza had been firing rockets into Israel. The press rarely mentions these rockets until there is an Israeli response. Every rocket fired into Israel is intended to harm civilians, and does harm them by terrorizing anyone in the area, by traumatizing families who have seconds to find shelter, as well as by injuring children or adults.
In the current terror wave, there is not even the 15 to 60 second siren warning. Only the sirens of ambulances.
Cherryl Smith, PhD, writes at Framing Israel. She is an emerita professor of rhetoric and composition, Sacramento State University. She lives in Tel Aviv and in the San Francisco Bay Area.